Last month boasted some really honorable (and/or margarita-friendly) holidays such as May Day, Memorial Day, and Cinco de Mayo. According to a few sites I found online, which may or may not be reliable, it was also host to some wacky and less recognized celebrations such as Save The Rhino Day (May 1st), Lumpy Rug Day (May 2nd), National Candied Orange Peel Day (May 4th), and National Sea Monkey Day (May 16th). No really. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do justice to the endless jokes on that one. Regardless, whether universally acknowledged or not, there are some pretty momentous occasions in the month of May… my new favorite being Mother’s Day, of course! Why am I talking about this in June, you ask? Has baby brain kicked in, yet again, a year after my daughter’s birth? For the record, I think the baby brain has settled in and won’t be leaving anytime soon; it is definitely a houseguest that has overstayed it’s welcome. Nonetheless, I bring up last month’s festivities to segue into all of the fun events we enjoyed in our humble abode before June made its hot and humid appearance. I realize they may not all be notable on a national level, and may not carry quite as much weight for those outside of our inner circle, but I hope you will appreciate hearing about them anyway. They made four short weeks turn into one heck of a month for my family and me! It is neat to think I have a lifetime of celebratory May dates to look forward to, which will forever benchmark my intensely beautiful (and still relatively new) role as a mommy.
In order of appearance…
My Birthday (May 2nd)
On the morning of May 2nd, I woke up thanking my lucky stars that I got to sleep in this year. That may sound like an obvious enough miracle for those of you who have early-rising tots, but it’s even more of a relief when you know what has transpired for my last few birthdays. Over the past several years, May 2nd seems to have brought some chaotic and confounding adventures along with it. In 2010, for example, massive rains hit Nashville and a state of emergency was declared. I awoke to my husband gently touching my arm and saying, “Honey, I hate to wake you up this early, but…” Thinking I was in for some sort of fabulous, note-worthy birthday surprise, I leapt out of bed. Big mistake. I hopped down into ankle-deep water, which covered the floor of our bedroom. We spent the day moving all of our soggy belongings to higher ground, tearing out our ruined carpet, siphoning water, arranging temporary sleeping accommodations on our living room floor, and feeling incredibly blessed that we only lost a rug (and perhaps a little of our sanity) in the crazy ordeal. Sadly, we had friends who lost their homes that day, and the road to recovery here in Nashville was a lengthy one. In 2011, my turning 34 coincided with the death of a certain notorious worldwide terrorist. If the first name that popped into your head was Voldemort, I encourage you to put down your summer reading and catch up on a little news instead. The guy I’m referring to hailed from the Middle East, and we’ll leave it at that. Enough said. In 2012, my 35th birthday was marked by unseasonably warm weather. Since I was only three weeks from giving birth, I spent my day feeling much like a cross between a beached whale and a menopausal chimpanzee, if there is such a thing. I couldn’t have mustered the strength to blow out a birthday candle unless I’d also managed to beam in an industrial fan. Or five.
So all of that said, I looked toward my 36th birthday with some apprehension and fascination. What on earth would I wake up to this year? What indelible memory would the universe bestow upon me? Thankfully, the answer is a perfect one: I woke up to my daughter’s breathtaking and toothy grin, and I whiled away the morning hours by cuddling with my sweet baby girl and our puppies. To top it all off, I found gifts lined up on our coffee table, alongside a note from my amazing husband (who was at his office across town), letting me know to reserve my Sunday afternoon for some special plans. Gifts wrapped and at the ready? Special weekend plans? Who is this guy and what has he done with my anti-organizing husband?! I jest, but you have to understand that my hubby is typically not what you would refer to as a planner. He is interminably kind and attentive, but forethought and in depth preparation aren’t really his forte. Unless, of course, it involves power tools and a few trips to the mecca of all things man… Home Depot. I’m the type-A, calendar-keeping, note-taking (read: micro-managing & overly particular) one of the two of us. If there are birthday secrets to be conjured up, detailed, and executed, rest assured I’m the one in charge of them. So, needless to say, discovering a cache of thoughtfully chosen and exquisitely bundled packages really moved me. It was an unforeseen gesture that made my heart happy. Who knew there was such a stealthy, present-proffering ninja in my midst? Brad and Gray drove me to a spa here in Nashville that following Sunday, and treated me to a manicure, pedicure, and massage. Seriously– and I can’t stress my enthusiasm enough– I got to have a massage and get my nails done!!!! I can’t remember the last time I felt so pampered. I was totally blown away, as I certainly never expected or suspected such extravagant plans. But credit where credit is due– my husband truly went out of his way to make me feel honored this year, and I think that deserves some appreciation and recognition. Forgive my excessive “bragging” about it, but I figure I spend enough time blogging at Brad’s expense. Singing his praises is a lovely idea once in a while, especially since Father’s Day is this month J. Getting back to my birthday, my day didn’t end there. Even more treasured than all of the wonderful spa treatments, was the opportunity to go to dinner with Brad and Gray at the end of it all. Spending quality family time together was exactly what I needed. My cup runneth over.
Mother’s Day (May 10th)
As if my birthday weren’t memorable enough, Mother’s day was absolute perfection. I knew something was going down when Brad and Gray disappeared to our basement that afternoon, but I thought they were surprising me by folding the gargantuan pile of laundry that had been calling my name for days. (A girl can dream, can’t she?) What I received was so much better than that! When they finally came back upstairs, I turned to see the happiest, paint-smeared face in all of Nashville (for the record, the face belonged to my daughter, not to my husband). Gray had made her first painting for me! She actually had to give it to me a bit early, because the art project made her look like the newest and youngest member of the Blue Man Group– minus the bald head– and my husband knew there was no way to clean her up without my noticing. Fortunately, Brad also knew to remove her nice clothes before wild paint splattering ensued, and he used non-toxic, kid-friendly paints. Extra credit points for Superdad!! And you know how I mentioned my husband isn’t a planner? He proved me wrong again on Mother’s Day. He made me breakfast and then presented me with the most stunning keepsake… He quite literally saved time in a bottle, by filling a glass jar with dirt from the place where we exchanged our marriage vows in 2010! Since we held our wedding in my Connecticut hometown, at a bed & breakfast owned by two of my former teachers, Brad called and had them ship a vial of soil from the very spot in the garden where we’d said “I do.” I’ve never been so touched in my life. In fact, if we’re being candid, I was a blubbering mess. If this puts it into perspective, I didn’t even cry that much while watching The Notebook. Brad thanked me for being mommy to our daughter, and said he wanted to remind me of the pivotal and precious celebration that lead us to her. I was floored by the sentimentality and heart that he and Gray put into the gifts they gave me. God has truly blessed me by allowing me to spend my life with the two of them. Talk about extraordinary and profound gifts!
Gray’s Birthday Party (May 18th)
Brad and I wanted to celebrate Gray’s first birthday in style, but we weren’t keen on overdoing the festivities. I’m always a little stunned when parents throw extravagant, lavish parties for a baby. A backyard Ferris wheel and three-ring circus are just a tad over the top in my world! I mean, is my one-year old really going to remember that when she’s 25? I wouldn’t imagine so. I don’t need Gray to be able to brag about elephant rides and a chocolate fondue bar; I just need her to remember that she was surrounded by love and affection. That said, to each their own. I don’t begrudge you the opportunity to throw an over-the-top fiesta for your baby if you so choose. If you want a life-sized Elmo piñata filled with Disneyland tickets, more power to you! We opted for a laid-back, intimate, at-home gathering, and it was truly a family affair. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law, as well as Gray’s cousin, were able to drive in for the party. Not only that, my mom & sister flew in from the East and West coasts, respectively! It was very meaningful for us to have everyone there to share such an important day in our daughter’s life. We invited a few close friends and their children too, so Gray had some of her playmates to celebrate with. Though we requested that folks skip the gifts and just bring their friendship, our little girl was showered with beautiful tokens of people’s fondness for her. I guess no one can pass up the chance to make a one year-old smile. (I don’t blame them~ I know I certainly can’t!) And people went above and beyond with their spirit of giving. Since music is already proving to be one of Gray’s passions, my sister and her husband presented Gray with the coolest gift ever– a mini baby grand piano!! I guess Godparents are allowed to spoil their Godchildren rotten, but… I’m telling you I’m envious of this thing. It’s truly awesome! Gray plunks away on it on a nightly basis now; I swear she’ll be composing her own tunes before long. The apple doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree where music is concerned, I guess!
And what would a birthday girl be without having her cake and eating it too? As it should be, we wanted to allow Gray to indulge just a little bit on her special day. Every baby book deserves the obligatory “baby slathers her face with frosting” shot, am I right? Our dear friend, Brad (not to be confused with my husband, Brad), provided us with the opportunity to let Gray taste her first cupcake, and we are unbelievably grateful for his sweet– pun very much intended– gift. Brad is the kick butt manager at Gigi’s Cupcakes here in Nashville, and he brought over magnificent and tasty little treats for everyone. Which translates to: I ate my weight in sugar that day! Gray was significantly daintier than I was about her cupcake consumption. I expected her to grab the whole darn pastry and stuff it into her mouth, but evidently she had other methods to the madness. She picked apart the cupcake (in true and inherited meticulous fashion), and carefully tasted one little piece at a time. She then proceeded to shove a large piece into my mouth. After a minute or so, she pointed at the gorgeous French cheeses I’d set out for the adults, and opted to feast on those instead. Ahh… a girl after my own heart, opinionated ways, and taste buds!
Gray’s Actual Birthday (May 21st)
On Gray’s actual birthday, we attempted to take her to the zoo for the first time. She is such an animal lover, we just knew she would have a blast. Unfortunately, our day began with a blast of rain instead. Mother nature threw Gray an impromptu surprise party by dumping a huge wind and thunderstorm on us about three minutes after we got through the park gates. So much for trusting the weather app on my cell phone, which mockingly predicted a day of sun and 80-degree weather, even as we huddled under the quickest shelter we could find and cursed our lack of an umbrella. As soon as the skies darkened, the zoo saw a mass exodus. No joke, the place cleared out like there’d been an Anthrax scare. It was the Indy 500 of strollers and baby buggies as parents rushed their kids out to the parking lot, which was a barren wasteland in no time flat. If we hadn’t been downwind of the giraffe poop, I might’ve thought we smelled or something. So why weren’t we following all of our fellow parental leaders? Because we took the impending downpour as a personal challenge. Well, and because we are a little nuts. We’d just bought our tickets, for Pete’s sake! Our kid wasn’t going home without seeing some lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! We fearlessly fought the urge to hightail it outta there, and forged on… albeit through many a puddle. Our clothes were dampened, but our spirits most certainly were not. The irony is, the deluge probably made for a better experience. Since no one was in the park any longer, we had the animals to ourselves. Or did we? Evidently the staff puts them all up when a storm blows in. Really, people? They are… wait for it… animals! Aren’t they supposed to be outside wildly roaming around in the elements? You know, survival of the fittest and all that jazz? But logic didn’t apply in this scenario, and away went Mr. Giraffe, for fear he would slip on the pavement and break his neck. (I’m not making that up to be morbid. That’s actually what they told us.) Mrs. Tiger could be seen in the far distance, pacing behind mesh bars and wishing she was closer to her appetizers (a.k.a, us), and Monsieur & Mademoiselle Monkey were nowhere to be found (off throwing poop behind closed doors, I imagine). Alas, our trip seemed like a bust. We went to lunch, figuring at least we spent a lot of money on zoo tickets so that we could eat “Safari Mac & Cheese” and drink “Jungle Apple Juice.” Good times. Lo’ and behold, the sun decided to make an appearance not long after we finished our meal. I’ve never seen a more excited little girl! And I guess Gray was pretty excited too. We strolled around for hours, with nary another patron in site. All of the animals graced us with their presence, and we wound up with a fantastic zoo day on our hands!
That evening, my mom was kind enough to babysit Gray while Brad and I went out to celebrate one year of parenting, which I think we’ll have to make a tradition of. It was some much-needed alone time and adult conversation, and we even stayed long enough to have dessert before we missed our birthday girl too much to stick around.
What an eventful month we had, huh? June is sleepy in comparison, but it’s a nice follow-up for such a hectic and jam-packed May. In fact, June has graced me with the time to sit and enjoy reading all of the giveaway entries from last month’s People.com blog. Yes, I really did read every last one of them– several hundred in total! I was astonished and thrilled by how many of you entered to win the gift basket that Celebrity Chitt so generously put together on behalf of Gray’s first birthday. Not only that, I could have written this entire post about how incredible your stories were. I smiled; I laughed; I even ugly-cried. My emotions ran so rampant I think my husband thought I was having a nervous breakdown! I was especially touched by how many of you sent me photos of your little ones, shared your compelling stories, and opened your hearts up to give me a glimpse inside. You are all inspiring and incredible parents! It warmed my heart to feel all of that mommy-baby love and bonding through all of you. It also means a lot that so many of you have taken the time to read my Cradle Chronicles blog, and that you are moved to offer such high praise. We are all in this together, so your supportive words were a huge encouragement for me. Who knows, I just might be working on a book about my motherhood adventures for all of you as well… stay tuned for more on that!
This week’s blog happens to coincide with my monthly People.com blog. For more fantastic photos, and to find out the winner of the ”Happy Birthday, Gray!” giveaway contest, please click through to my blog there!
Until next time… Peace Love & Dirty Diapers,
Jenna von Oy
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